Loading Spinner

American Desks

Dating to at least the 15th century, desks remained specialized tools for the literate few until the end of the 17th century, when an explosion of printed material prompted an interest in literacy among the middle and upper classes.

Early in the development of American desks, a wide variety were created, from simple pine versions made by local cabinetmakers to finely-crafted examples in the Hepplewhite, Chippendale, and Sheratoby styles. Well-known period furniture-makers included Goddard-Townsend, John and Thomas Seymour, and Duncan Phyfe.

In the 20th century, American design began moving away from traditional designs built with oak, walnut, mahogany, and maple, into to a more contemporary direction that saw the rise of modern designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Jens Risom, and later Milo Baughman.

American desks are some of the more popular and widely-purchased pieces in the Western world. Auctions are ideal sources for a variety of them in every size, shape, and style.


Quick Facts

  • In March 2015 a Dunlap country-style, slant-front curly maple desk went for more than three times its estimate at Garth’s
  • A desk that once sat in U.S. President Thomas Jefferson’s plantation in Poplar Forest, Virginia, sold at auction in 2013 for $65,000
  • In 2013 at Sotheby’s, a one-of-a-kind aluminum desk crafted by Neal Feay Studio sold for charity (to fight AIDS in Africa) for $1.7 million

Recommended Items at Auction

See all items

Vintage 1940's Cherry Waterfall Kneehole Desk
Oct 30, 10:00 AM MST
Vintage 1940's Cherry Waterfall Kneehole Desk
by EJ'S Auction & Appraisal
Est: $0- $0
$102 Bids
Federal Sycamore and Pine Slant-Front Desk
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Federal Sycamore and Pine Slant-Front Desk
by Nye & Company
Est: $500- $800
$2501 Bid
Desk lamp, around 1900, bronze, b
Nov 05, 10:00 AM CET
Desk lamp, around 1900, bronze, b
by Historia Auktionshaus
Est: €0- €0
€600 Bids
AMERICAN OAK RAISED PANEL PARTNERS DESK CIRCA 190
Oct 28, 11:00 AM EDT
AMERICAN OAK RAISED PANEL PARTNERS DESK CIRCA 190
by Kamelot Auctions
Est: $600- $800
$5000 Bids
Desk, Manner of James Mont
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Desk, Manner of James Mont
by Palm Beach Modern Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$4000 Bids
Roycroft Desk Set
Nov 06, 12:00 PM EDT
Roycroft Desk Set
by Cottone Auctions
Est: $100- $200
$500 Bids
Edwardian Inlaid Mahogany Tambour Writing Desk
Oct 28, 10:00 AM EDT
Edwardian Inlaid Mahogany Tambour Writing Desk
by Nye & Company
Est: $500- $700
$2500 Bids
Robert Sonneman Vintage Desk Task Lamp
Oct 31, 10:00 AM PDT
Robert Sonneman Vintage Desk Task Lamp
by Hughes Auctions
Est: $200- $300
$1000 Bids
A Knoll Leather Executive Desk Chair
Nov 11, 9:00 AM EST
A Knoll Leather Executive Desk Chair
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
Adorable Original Signed Desk Top Bronze Cat Sculpture
Nov 02, 6:00 PM EDT
Adorable Original Signed Desk Top Bronze Cat Sculpture
by Weatherham Estate Treasures
Est: $400- $600
$2000 Bids
American Curly Maple Fall Front Desk, Early 19thc.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
American Curly Maple Fall Front Desk, Early 19thc.
by Neue Auctions
Est: $600- $1,000
$3000 Bids
American Birdseye Maple Two Drawer Drop Leaf Stand,19thc.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
American Birdseye Maple Two Drawer Drop Leaf Stand,19thc.
by Neue Auctions
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
American Walnut Roll Top Desk, Early 20thc.
Oct 30, 10:00 AM EDT
American Walnut Roll Top Desk, Early 20thc.
by Neue Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$2500 Bids
STICKLEY CARVED OAK DESK AND CHAIR, H 29", W 42", D 27 3/4"
Nov 11, 11:00 AM EST
STICKLEY CARVED OAK DESK AND CHAIR, H 29", W 42", D 27 3/4"
by DuMouchelles
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
DIMINUTIVE CHIPPENDALE STYLE SLANT FRONT DESK
Oct 29, 10:00 AM CDT
DIMINUTIVE CHIPPENDALE STYLE SLANT FRONT DESK
by Selkirk Auctioneers & Appraisers
Est: $200- $400
$1000 Bids
A Chippendale carved and figured walnut slant-front desk New England, late 18th century
Nov 10, 11:00 AM EST
A Chippendale carved and figured walnut slant-front desk New England, late 18th century
by Freeman's
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
Edward Wormley Dunbar Desk Model 6722
Nov 04, 10:00 AM CDT
Edward Wormley Dunbar Desk Model 6722
by Revere Auctions
Est: $400- $800
$2000 Bids
Desk made in Italy, plywood top covered in cherry., Italy
Nov 06, 4:00 PM CET
Desk made in Italy, plywood top covered in cherry., Italy
by ArtLaRosa
Est: €500- €0
€5000 Bids
(2) VINTAGE DONGHIA DESK CHAIRS, FOR REUPHOLSTERY
Nov 03, 11:00 AM EDT
(2) VINTAGE DONGHIA DESK CHAIRS, FOR REUPHOLSTERY
by Westport Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$100 Bids
bp parity badge
Vintage For Herman Miller Modern Desk
Nov 07, 10:00 AM EDT
Vintage For Herman Miller Modern Desk
by Clarke Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $900
$3000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell American Desks


Neue Auctions

Neue Auctions

Neal Auction Company

Neal Auction Company

Nye & Company

Nye & Company

Eldred's

Eldred's